Home 2018 Numero uno England provides the biggest test for India in ODIs

Numero uno England provides the biggest test for India in ODIs

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No wonder England is the number one team in the ICC ODI rankings. Their elevation in ODI cricket has been a wonderful achievement and 2018 has been special indeed. If the earlier 5-match series victory against Australia was top notch, the ongoing victories are even more fascinating.

Eoin Morgan’s side has taken the game into a different level and the groups of players have responded time and time again to show what an attacking unit they are. If one looks at them, there is a clear sense of a fearless brand of cricket.

The players haven’t thrown away their form and consistency has given the side a new identity. With the England vs India ODI series coming up, fans will get a clear identification of whether England are truly the best.

England and their complete show

Jonny Bairstow has been outstanding with the bat in all formats for England

This England team looks complete in every sense and the overall performances have transpired them into winners. Credit to skipper Eoin Morgan for making the difference in decision making and allowing the side to play with a license to thrill. The English dressing room is a happy bunch and knowing what their strengths are, they are looking to build on the same.

It’s no surprise that England scripted the world record of the highest runs ever scored in ODI cricket (481). They sealed the series at Trent Bridge in this process after overcoming Australia by 242 runs. Playing like this, their next target could be seeing their batsmen hit double tons. The likes of Roy and Bairstow know they can achieve the same.

If you look at England then they boast of players of supreme ODI pedigree. The idea to send Jonny Bairstow to open with Jason Roy, has worked well. Bairstow and Roy recorded their fifth century opening in 2018. The bowlers have come strong at the death. The batsmen too got the desired push and being an electric side on the field, everything came together.

An unstoppable force in 2018

Alex Hales
Alex Hales has found his form again                                                                                                                            (Image: Hindustan Times)

England as a team came really alive in 2018 to win three successive ODI series. This includes a dual win over the Aussies and a 3-2 series victory against New Zealand. The current series sees them hold a 4-0 advantage as Aussies could be facing a whitewash. England’s power has come from the fact that their batsmen atop have clicked very well. The side has a 11-4 tally this year.

Justin Langer likened the English top three batsmen as the former famous Aussie trio of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting. This shows how the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales have commanded respect.

Bairstow has responded with four centuries this year. Roy has worked hard and got the side off to a good start often. He has got three centuries and a fifty. At number three Alex Hales too has come calling and looks like the best bet. Their free flowing nature mixed with elegance have given the team a much needed platform. The middle-order boasts of Morgan and Joe Root and their experience is a telling factor.

What does the series against India behold?

India vs England 2018
Is England potent enough to nullify India”s spin threat?

Given England’s top order prowess, the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav will be a handy trio. Battling against Bhuvi in swinging conditions will test Roy and Bairstow. The England batsmen have faced an Aussie bowling line-up that lacked their premier three pacers in the ongoing series, but India brings forward a different battle altogether.

Moreover, they will also be up against Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The wrist spinners have fared well for India and against the Proteas they shared a staggering 33 wickets between them. Can England stand tall against the two spinners? Have they faced such quality off late?

Whoever goes on to win this series, can stake claim for the rest of the season. India will need to play their A game or else it will allow England to pull the trigger. A win over India somehow ensures England the breathing space of doing really well in the coveted World Cup next year.

Can they stop a resurgent India?

The Indian cricket team have been a major force as far as ODI cricket in concerned in recent years. The complete domination in 50-over game started in 2016 when they beat Zimbabwe. Since that 3-0 victory, they went on to add another eight successive bilateral ODI series wins. One after the other they downed every opposition they came against.

Majority of those series victories have been at home, but don’t write this team off outside Asian conditions either. The 5-1 victory against South Africa earlier this year highlights the strengths India has in its kitty. The team had also reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017, but lost to Pakistan. Besides that, one can give India full marks each time they have stepped on to the field.

The 5-match ODI series between the two sides will definitely be won by the team who comes out on top in pivotal situations. It’s a minuscule gap that separates the two sides at the moment and the series could go either way.

Are they World Cup favourites given its at home?

They way they are consistently ripping apart Australia – the 2015 ICC World Cup winners, it’s indeed notable that England go into the 2019 edition as favourites. Two simple reasons justify that. 1) The 2019 World Cup is being played in England. 2) Their squad depth is just amazing.

But one must also know that England usually underperform in big tournaments. The last two editions have seen them bow out in the quarter-final and group stage respectively. Apart from one World Twenty20, the English team haven’t been successful in mega ICC events.

Having said that, Morgan’s side present a lot of freshness. In order to break the jinx, Morgan will need to lead the team well and get the players together to perform collectively. The side needs to play a consistent brand of cricket and if they continue in the same manner, it will help them massively.

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